You probably have a treasure trove of new digital goodies. No doubt you’re anxious to start using them. But take the time to protect your new gear. Otherwise, it could become a source of frustration.
1. Contact your insurance agent.
Your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance should cover your digital gear. But make sure the coverage is adequate.
Laptops, cameras and music players are often used on the go. Ask your agent if the gear is covered outside of the house.
Coverage amounts and deductibles are also important. Insurance should cover the full value of your gear. Replacement value is better than actual cash value. Your deductible may be higher than the cost of smaller items.
Your insurance may only cover certain events. Ensure that loss is covered under your policy. You’ll probably pay extra for flood insurance.
2. Mail in your registration.
Many people overlook product registration. But take the time to mail in the warranty and register your new gear.
Your information can be used for marketing purposes, so you may balk at product registration. But there are advantages. The company can contact you in the event of a recall. After recent battery recalls, this should be a no-brainer.
Also, registration won’t help you recover something in the event of theft. But it will help you prove ownership.
3. Write down serial numbers.
If your camera or computer were stolen, would you know the serial number? Probably not — unless you wrote it down.
A serial number will help if you report a stolen item. The police can match serial numbers on recovered property. Your insurance agent may also need the serial number for claims.
So make a list of serial numbers and product information. Include brands and model numbers. You can get most product information from the manuals. But these are often lost or misplaced.
Store the list in your safe-deposit box. You may also want to include photographs.
4. List contact information.
Many gadgets let you enter your contact information. Make sure the address and phone number you enter are current. If the gadget is found, it can be returned easily.
You can also create a Read Me file containing your contact information. Put it on memory cards for cameras and other gadgets. Put the file on your laptop’s desktop.
This assumes that the person finding the gadget is honest. You can’t count on that. So consider buying STOP (Security Tracking of Office Property) tags. These tags can’t be removed without damaging a gadget’s case. The tag leaves an indelible mark on the case in the event it is removed. It includes STOP’s phone number.
The tags include a registration number. STOP can return recovered items to you. You pay a one-time fee (about $25) for the service.
5. Secure your laptop.
You’ve probably installed anti-spyware and antivirus software. You should also think about physical theft.
Protect your data with encryption software like Bestcrypt, PGP Desktop Home or PC-Encrypt. Thieves won’t be able to access sensitive data on the stolen laptop.
Tracking software is also a good idea. When connected to the Internet, a stolen laptop sends a signal to the software’s publisher. This helps police locate the laptop. Computrace and XTool make tracking programs.
Kim Komando hosts a radio show about consumer electronics, computers and the Internet at noon Saturdays on KFYI (550 AM). To listen to the podcast, visit www.komando.com/listen. To subscribe to her free e-mail newsletter, sign up at www.komando.com/newsletters.